Madeleines are a shell-shaped cross between cookie and cake. They get their shape from scallop-shaped Madeleine pans, but you can use muffin tins or even mini-muffins if that’s all that you have. They are amazing sprinkled with powdered sugar, but equally delicious drizzled with or dipped into chocolate.
There are a bunch of myths and legends about the origin of Madeleines, some of them religious, some of them secular. They were most likely developed in France, though at least one story has them arriving from Poland, and the first written recipes appeared in the 1750s. Madeleines are especially well known in the Lorraine region of France, and orders of nuns were known to bake and sell them. It seems especially appropriate to bake some Madeleines using Houdan eggs.
The batter needs to chill for a few hours, so you can start them the night before, or in the morning for an afternoon bake, etc. In other words, plan ahead.
3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
A pinch of sea salt
Zest of one lemon or one orange, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or gluten free 1-1 flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Powdered sugar or melted chocolate, optional
If you’re planning to bake the same day, grease and flour your madeleine mold or pan, or whatever pan you’re using. Pop them in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to bake. If you’re baking the next day, you can grease, flour, and chill your pan before you preheat the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla, and zest (if using), on medium until the batter has lightened and thickened a bit. With the mixer on low speed, sift in the flour and baking powder until it’s reasonably well beaten in. Add the butter a bit at a time, mixing until each addition is completely incorporated. Mix just until the batter is fully blended. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Spoon the chilled batter into each of the madeleine mold shells about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 10 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown on the edges. Gluten free Madelienes may not brown as quickly, but try not to overbake them.
Let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a clean towel or a cooling rack and let them cool for at least an hour.
Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with melted chocolate, or dip in melted chocolate. Madeleines are best eaten the day they’re made. If you store them, make sure it is in an air tight container.